Lobbying

Operating within parliament there are many professional lobbyists. These people are paid by private industry and their job is to pressure government ministers into enacting legislation that is in favour of the organizations they represent, regardless of what is best for the people of the country as a whole. They are a complete corruption of the political process and some examples of what they have done are listed below:

File:Geoff Hoon Headshot.jpg
Geoff Hoon: One of 4 Labour ministers who was prepared to lobby the government for cash.
Picture © R. D. Ward

1. In March 2010 four Labour ministers were prepared to undertake lobbying of government policy in return for cash. One of the four, Steven Byers, described himself as a ‘cab for hire’ for £5,000/day. *

2. In December 2011 Tim Collins*, Ex-Tory MP and executive of Bell Pottinger, claimed to have ‘no problem’ getting corporate requests through to the likes of George Osbourne and David Cameron.

3. In June 2013 Tory Tim Yeo*, chairman of the powerful Parliamentary Energy Committee, was alleged to have briefed a lobbyist from a firm he works for on what to say in front of his own committee. A subsequent investigation found he had ‘broken no rules’ though he was none-the-less warned about his conduct.

4. In February 2015 former Foreign Secretaries Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw* were both caught out by a Channel 4 documentary team offering to use their political influence in return for payments of at least £5,000. Jack Straw also boasted of previous occasions when he’d been able to alter EU legislation ‘under the radar’, and even had influence over the Ukrainian government, all in return for large cash payments.

5. In November 2015 Tim Yeo* (again!) was found during a libel trial to have told corporate clients he would be prepared to lobby the government on their behalf, in return for a personal fee of £7,000/day.

6. Just before the 2010 General Election David Cameron said that Lobbying was…

the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.’

Since then David Cameron has hired corporate lobbyist Lynton Crosby, as a full-time £500,000/year personal adviser.*

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Lynton Crosby: David Cameron’s Personal Adviser.
Picture © cobber27

Shortly after Lynton Crosby’s arrival at No 10, the government shelved its planned policy of introducing plain packaging on cigarettes. Lynton Crosby has worked for the tobacco industry and previously fought the introduction of plain packaging on cigarettes in Australia. He refused to say who his clients are in this country, though it later turned out he represents the tobacco giant Phillip Morris in a £6m contract.* (After furious pressure from health groups the policy has now, finally, been re-instated).

Lynton Crosby has also worked for drinks manufacturer Distillers, and previously opposed curbs on the sale of cheap alcohol, a policy soon dropped by David Cameron after Mr Crosby’s arrival on his team.* (After an outcry it has now been re-instated, but in a much watered-down form.)

Lynton Crosby also represents Dart Energy, a company heavily involved in the Fracking industry. Shortly after his arrival at No 10 the government introduced tax breaks for Fracking companies.*

Lynton Crosby also advises private health companies* on how best to exploit the privatisation of the NHS for their own profit, while since his arrival at No. 10 the privatisation of the NHS is being pursued with utmost haste.

These of course are only the examples we know about. Westminster is packed with lobbyists, and one can only conjecture at how much legislation is being altered or amended by their influence. Invariably with any questions about Lobbying you get the response that ‘no rules have been broken’. However it is quite clear that in this corruption of a democracy, government legislation is now almost completely driven by the interests of big business, rather than the needs of the people.

* References:

Cash for Influence Scandal:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/7490787/Four-Labour-MPs-implicated-in-cash-for-influence-scandal.html

Tim Collins/Bell Pottinger:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/caught-on-camera-top-lobbyists-boasting-how-they-influence-the-pm-6272760.html

Tim Yeo:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10108457/Lobby-row-Energy-policy-MP-Tim-Yeo-filmed-boasting-about-introducing-businessmen-to-Government.html and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-34921715

Jack Straw/MalcolmRifkind:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/22/jack-straw-malcolm-rifkind-cash-for-access-channel-4-dispatches-telegraph

Lynton Crosby:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lobbying-scandal-ex-watchdog-tells-david-2100461

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